The number one thing that a normal, healthy woman needs her husband to provide is security.
Ephesians chapter 5 is God’s picture of marriage. The theme of Ephesians for women is respect. God says to treat your husband with honor. Treat him as you would the Lord Jesus, because your husband’s most important need is honor.
The standard in Ephesians for a husband is different than it is for a wife. It says for men, “Husbands love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That means the standard for husbands is self-sacrifice.
Think of Jesus. We don't have to love Jesus. The reason we love Jesus is because he died for us on the cross. Jesus is not an imposing God who stands over us demanding something. Jesus went to the cross and did for us what we could never have done for ourselves. And so, Jesus is the most loved person of all time. More than any political leader, or any other person in the history of the world, people love Jesus Christ, because Jesus was willing to give his life up for someone else.
Husbands can earn respect in the same way. Husbands can't demand respect or affection from their wives. We can't go around demanding it, but we can earn it. Admiration and affection come by what we're willing to sacrifice.
There is nothing that makes a woman feel more secure than a selfless, sacrificial male. There's nothing that makes a woman feel more insecure than a selfish, detached male.
Men don't need security the way women need security. We need security, but we feel secure in ourselves. That’s why we won't stop and ask for directions. We think, “I can get there.” As a result, in my family, were great explorers. I have a compass “in here.” I think I've got it taken care of. But my wife’s saying to ask for directions because her security doesn't come from “in here.”
The need for security is not a weakness. It's based on need. She needs for her world to be right. She needs you. She needs your gift. She needs your strength. She needs your understanding and your partnership to help put her world right. She needs a husband who comes to her and says, “I’m here to help. And I’ll sacrifice. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
For a man to have a successful marriage means he has to learn to understand everything in his wife's life that makes her feel secure. It may mean you're concerned about the kids. You're concerned about the finances. You're concerned about her emotions. You're concerned about the spirituality of the home. You're concerned about her job. You're concerned about the broken washing machine.
Then you communicate that you're going to help her. You let her know you're going to come into her world and make her feel secure rather than telling her, “It doesn't matter.” Or, “Who cares?” Or, “It's going to be alright.”
Some things that don’t bother a man really, really bother a woman. All the lectures in the world will never change her, no more than she will change you when she feels insecure. There's only one thing that will make her feel secure: knowing that you care. It doesn't matter that you agree or don’t agree. It doesn't matter that you see it the same way. The only thing that matters is that she feels secure.
When Karen and I first got married, I was completely selfish. I would golf all the time, work all the time. Then I’d come home and Karen would say, “I'm worried about the kids,” “I'm worried about our finances,” “I’m worried about this and that.” So, I would just kind of look at her. Sometimes I’d lecture her. I’d say, “It’s fine,” or “there’s nothing to worry about.” I noticed that none of this ever helped. When I said, “It’s going to be okay,” instead of calming her, she would just get tense. I’d think, “What's wrong with you? Relax!”
She couldn’t communicate to me, “I'm tense because you don't care. You're not tuned in. You don't listen to me. It's just all about you. I'm telling you, I'm worried about the kids and I don't want a lecture. I don't want you to roll your eyes at me. I don't want you to tell me it doesn't matter. Or that it's going to be okay. I want you to connect. I want you to understand, and I want you to help me make it right.”
A husband’s response at those times should be, “Whatever it takes. If I have to say no to my friends, if I have to say no to work, if I have to say no to myself, if I have to say no to football, I’ll do it.”
I remember the first time I looked at Karen and said, “I'm sorry that I've been insensitive. I’ve invalidated everything you've said. I've rolled my eyes. I've lectured you. I've called you names. I've treated you like you were stupid. I'm so sorry that I've done that. From now on, whatever you need, I'll get it. If we need to talk, we'll talk. It doesn't mean you're right about everything but if you say something that is a genuine need, you don't have to ask twice. I’m committed.”
And here was her response: she relaxed. I had tried to lecture her and browbeat her into relaxing and never got it. But when I finally connected with her and began sacrificially meeting her needs that's when she began to relax and open up to me.
Marriage is so much easier when you just become humble and say, “Tell me what you need and what you want me to do.”
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Jimmy Evans is the founder and President of XO Marriage, a ministry that is devoted to helping couples thrive in strong and fulfilling marriages and families. Jimmy and his wife, Karen, co-host MarriageToday, a nationally syndicated television program. He also serves as an Apostolic Elder of Trinity Fellowship Church in Amarillo, Texas. Jimmy holds an honorary doctorate of literature from The King's University and has authored more than seventeen books.